Freelancer’s Guide to Getting Out of the House Epsom and Surrounds
Posted by Rosalind Brookman on 31 Jan 2018
Working from home is brilliant: the extremely short commute, the ability to grab a hot drink without feeling obliged to make 14 other people in the office one too and having nobody to answer to except yourself. Your time is your own to arrange and if you forget to put your trousers on one morning, then…well, who’s going to know?
However, being at home can be a huge distraction: the outstanding chores are competing for your attention and staring at the same four walls day after day can make it hard to feel creative.
Sometimes, the best way to work from home is to… not work from home.
And that’s why I started compiling my Freelancer’s Guide to Getting Out of the House: a handy list of places in and around the area that offer somewhere you can set up a temporary work station for a few hours and that have the added luxury of no household tasks guilt-tripping you into doing them. Plus, there are people working there whose job it is to specifically top up your caffeine levels and bring you cake.
I’ve visited many great places in Surrey so far but here is my current Top 5!
Number 1. All Saints Coffee Shop, Leatherhead
All Saints is a café hidden away in a converted church on Kingston Road in Leatherhead. The reason I’ve given it top billing is that it’s not just a great physical space – large, bright and airy – it’s also an amazing social enterprise that works to help disadvantaged local young people.
It runs six days a week and offers them the chance to take up paid employment and accredited training through the Government’s apprenticeship scheme. That’s not all, however: once the coffee shop’s door closes at 3pm it then becomes a drop-in centre for 11 to 17 year olds, where there’s a safe space for them to receive one-to-one counselling. Pretty splendid, eh?
You’re welcome to sit in the café area with your laptop but they also offer the option of renting their excellent value hot desks (which come with use of an iMac) and a meeting room for up to eight people. And the café has a great range of food and drink to keep you going too.
Number 2. All Things Nice
Talking of sustenance, number two on my list ticks every box on that score.
All Things Nice in Ewell is run by the lovely Nicci and Sara and you can feel the passion they put in to their uniquely quirky café the moment you walk through their door. They serve delicious homemade food (quiches, scones, sausage rolls, baked potatoes, soups, sandwiches and amazing cakes for starters!) and the atmosphere inside is always warm, cosy and friendly.
All Things Nice is also a really community-minded venue. Sara and Nicci support all sorts of charities and events and often lend their space to local small businesses to use.
Being both dog and child friendly it can get busy but find the right time and you’ve got yourself the perfect hideaway for a couple of hours of work.
Number 3. The Caballo Lounge, Epsom
I generally prefer to spend my money in independent places rather than big chains but occasionally I’ll make an exception. The Caballo Lounge, in Epsom, is one of them.
It’s another place with imaginative decoration (you can while away ten minutes just checking out all the different pictures on the wall). It’s also got funky background music, lots of tables, comfy sofas and a sun terrace upstairs, which is lovely when the weather’s good.
It’s generally quiet on a weekday morning and the staff is attentive and let you get on with your work in peace (provided you buy a drink every now and then). The ambience here is one of the most productive I’ve found so far.
Number 4. Claremont Landscape Garden, Esher
You can’t really go wrong with a National Trust venue, can you?
When you flash that membership card at one of the welcoming volunteers on the gate you know you’re assured of three things: beautiful scenery to inspire you, a cosy café and delicious flapjack.
We’re so lucky, in Surrey, to be surrounded by lots of National Trust run estates and I’m happy to settle down in the tea room of any of them but I’m particularly fond of Claremont Landscape Garden, in Esher.
It’s got a fascinating history (Queen Victoria was a frequent visitor as a girl) and the gorgeous grounds are perfect for an invigorating walk before getting down to work. I like to sit on the bench at the top of the hill opposite the amphitheatre: the view is lovely and it’s easy to while away some time imagining Claremont’s esteemed owners and visitors having a leisurely stroll around the grounds!
Again, it’s a popular place that gets busy but once you’ve got a table then it’s a great place to sit, observe the comings and goings and do some work…in between buying more coffee and flapjack, of course!
Number 5. Carolina’s, Bookham
Back to an independent again: Carolina’s of Bookham is another café that sits in the centre of its community and, if the morning that I was there is anything to go by, it’s a place really valued by its customers. It was busy but I worked from a table in the back corner, perfectly situated to soak up the buzzy atmosphere while not getting too distracted by it.
The décor is vintage-y farmhouse – with a funky twist via the exposed lightbulbs. The staff is friendly and again, the atmosphere is really conducive to working.
It may be number five in my list but if the order was judged on food and drink alone then Carolina’s would definitely rise in the rankings: the cappuccino was really smooth and rich and the scrambled eggs I ordered (after being unable to ignore all the amazing smelling breakfasts passing right by my nose) were absolutely delicious.
For the full list of the places I’ve been hanging out (I’m mean working!!!) pop over to my Freelancer’s Guide to Getting Out of the House.